LANL Abstracts: Chaos and Resonances in the Solar System

From: Amara Graps (
Date: Fri Jan 04 2002 - 14:36:10 MST

URL for Abstracts

Mirror at
(for example:


Astrophysics, abstract

From: Matthew J. Holman <>
Date: Fri, 30 Nov 2001 17:07:37 GMT (551kb)

Chaos in the Solar System

Authors: M. Lecar, F. Franklin, M. Holman, N. Murray
Comments: 65 pages, 27 figures
Journal-ref: Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Vol. 39, p.
581-631 (2001)

     The physical basis of chaos in the solar system is now better
     understood: in all cases investigated so far, chaotic orbits
     result from overlapping resonances. Perhaps the clearest examples
     are found in the asteroid belt. Overlapping resonances account for
     its Kirkwood gaps and were used to predict and find evidence for
     very narrow gaps in the outer belt. Further afield, about one new
     ``short-period'' comet is discovered each year. They are believed
     to come from the ``Kuiper Belt'' (at 40 AU or more) via chaotic
     orbits produced by mean-motion and secular resonances with
     Neptune. Finally, the planetary system itself is not immune from
     chaos. In the inner solar system, overlapping secular resonances
     have been identified as the possible source of chaos. For example,
     Mercury, in 10^{12} years, may suffer a close encounter with Venus
     or plunge into the Sun. In the outer solar system, three-body
     resonances have been identified as a source of chaos, but on an
     even longer time scale of 10^9 times the age of the solar system.
     On the human time scale, the planets do follow their orbits in a
     stately procession, and we can predict their trajectories for
     hundreds of thousands of years. That is because the mavericks,
     with shorter instability times, have long since been ejected. The
     solar system is not stable; it is just old!

Paper: Source (551kb), PostScript, or Other formats

Astrophysics, abstract

From: Matthew J. Holman <>
Date (v1): Fri, 30 Nov 2001 17:36:07 GMT (150kb)
Date (revised v2): Sun, 2 Dec 2001 03:32:03 GMT (150kb)

The role of chaotic resonances in the solar system

Authors: N. Murray, M. Holman
Comments: 28 pages, 9 figures
Journal-ref: Nature, Volume 410, Issue 6830, pp. 773-779 (2001)

     Our understanding of the Solar System has been revolutionized over
     the past decade by the finding that the orbits of the planets are
     inherently chaotic. In extreme cases, chaotic motions can change
     the relative positions of the planets around stars, and even eject
     a planet from a system. Moreover, the spin axis of a
     planet-Earth's spin axis regulates our seasons-may evolve
     chaotically, with adverse effects on the climates of otherwise
     biologically interesting planets. Some of the recently discovered
     extrasolar planetary systems contain multiple planets, and it is
     likely that some of these are chaotic as well.

Paper: Source (150kb), PostScript, or Other formats

Amara Graps | Max-Planck-Institut fuer Kernphysik
Interplanetary Dust Group | Saupfercheckweg 1
+49-6221-516-543 | 69117 Heidelberg, GERMANY *
      "Never fight an inanimate object." - P. J. O'Rourke

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Fri Nov 01 2002 - 13:37:32 MST